Now that Thanksgiving is officially over until next year, it's time to enjoy the sounds of the season. Today while standing in line waiting to see Santa, I hummed along with the holiday music that streamed through the speakers at the mall until a certain horrid screeching made my vocal cords shrink back in terror. The screeching, loud enough to cause shoppers on both floors of the mall to stop in their tracks to assess the situation, came from the small mouth of a very young boy.
Ah yes, another fine sound of the season - the screams of terror that go along with a visit to Santa. This year, my husband and I decided my daughter Isabella was old enough to take her first trip to visit the big guy in the red suit. When you ask her "What does Santa say?", she aptly replies, "Ho, Ho, Ho!" We reasoned that if she could say it, she could see him. Since I have been eagerly awaiting her first trip to see Santa since the day my daughter was born, I convinced my husband that this weekend, the weekend to officially kick off the Christmas season, was the time to make my dreams a reality.
My daughter was wearing a cute little red sweater, embellished with an appliqued reindeer, and a matching hair bow. Her hair was both clean and nicely combed, a rare occurrence for a toddler who can't seem to keep her messy hands away from her head. My husband, daughter and I arrived at the mall upon opening to ensure our wait in line for St. Nick was brief - an important consideration when trying to keep the little one happy and joyful. We were the second family in line and ready for Isabella's big debut with Kris Kringle. Like a set of ambitious coaches readying their star player for the big game, we drilled Isabella repeatedly with the question "What does Santa say?" to get her hyped up and ready to go.
All was going well until the little boy in front of us screamed like a banshee upon being placed on Santa's lap. We laughed, thinking it was funny until we realized that this kid was ruining our perfect game. Isabella looked on in terror and trepidation. All the prepping and work we had done was unravelling before our very eyes. My husband, genius that he is, suggested that we let the older kids who were behind us go first to show Isabella that happy children visit Santa, too. Oh these kids were good - they told the big guy in red what they wanted, sat on his lap and smiled like angels.
When it was our turn, we gently placed Isabella on Santa's lap and ran to stand behind the camera. My husband and I immediately began whooping and hollering in an attempt to get my blank-faced daughter to crack a smile. Isabella didn't scream, but she didn't smile either.
In fact, her expression looked like a mix between sadness and anger. In the picture, my daughter looks like she is holding back tears, yet her eyes are shooting daggers in our direction. Not wanting to take up too much of St. Nick's time since we know he is a busy guy this time of year, we said the picture was "perfect." We knew it wouldn't get much better and would likely end in tears if we tried to make Isabella smile when she did not want to. As soon as my daughter was released from Santa's lap, she ran towards us - all aglow with delight and giggling. Really, Isabella, really? Impeccable timing for joy and laughter .... AFTER the $26 picture package!
Isabella never did get to tell Santa what she wanted for Christmas. But I think she will be okay because Santa knows what her little heart desires. He always knows. That is part of the magic of Kris Kringle. How do I know this? Because after all these years, I still believe.